Thursday, December 08, 2011

Ethiopia's budding taste

(Dec 09 2011, Mail & Guardian Online)--According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, there are officially 34 100 Ethiopian refugees and asylum-seekers in South Africa.

Ethiopia proves how poor an indicator of general wellbeing the gross domestic product can be. For the past decade it has had among the highest sustained growth rates on the continent but life in one of the most beautiful countries with one of the richest histories in Africa is unsustainable for many.

Journalists who point out the bad news -- including members of the foreign press -- have been arrested under anti-terrorism laws. According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Ethiopia is the continent's leading jailer of journalists and has driven more journalists into exile than any other country in Africa.

Hopefully food critics are exempt, although I wouldn't count on it. No surprises then at the number of new Ethiopian restaurants enriching South African food culture.

Thanks to Ethiopia's distinctive cuisine, Ethiopian restaurants are found all over the world, from Tasmania -- the Axum Ethiopian Restaurant in Hobart -- to Alaska -- Tekul in Fairbanks, run by the great-great-grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie until it collapsed under snow. The story of the latter is told in Harry Kloman's book Mesob across America.

The most well-known Ethiopian restaurant in Cape Town is Addis in Cape, opened by Senait Mekonnen in 2007. There are now at least another four eateries in the city's CBD inspired by the cuisine of the Horn of Africa.
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